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Using Spot Colors in Print Designs

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 2.4

In Chapter 2, you were first introduced to color theory and learned about RGB and CMYK color. Can you remember what colors these abbreviations stand for?

  • RGB color consists of the primary colors of light, with different amounts of red, green, and blue creating the different colors.
  • CMYK color consists of the subtractive colors used in printing, with different percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black creating the different colors.

In previous chapters, you also learned a bit about process and spot colors. Can you remember the difference between a spot color and a process color? What are some of the reasons to use a spot color in a design for a print publication?

Remember that process colors are created by mixing percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to reproduce a large range of colors in print. On the other hand, spot colors are individually mixed colors used to:

  • Limit the number of inks used in a print publication—for example, black and one spot color. Printing with two colors may save money over process color printing.
  • Print colors that can’t be reproduced using CMYK process colors—such as metallic or fluorescent colors.
  • Print corporate colors more accurately, regardless of press or paper.

Adding Spot Colors

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 3.6
  • star.jpg ACA Objective 5.1
  • video.jpg Video 4.5

InDesign offers many built-in PANTONE color guides along with TRUMATCH, TOYO, and HKS color matching systems. To learn more about the different color matching systems, their history, and color guides, use a search engine, such as Google, to research terms such as, “What is PANTONE?”

To add a spot color to the Swatches panel (Figure 4.19):

  1. Select New Color Swatch from the Swatches panel menu.
  2. In the New Color Swatch dialog box, select Spot from the Color Type menu.
  3. From the Color Mode menu, select one of the spot color guides, such as PANTONE+ Solid Coated. (Coated refers to the paper, or stock, your publication is printed on. Coated papers work well for publications that are rich in color and contain images rich in detail.)
  4. Scroll through the list of colors or enter a color reference number from the color guide.
  5. Click OK.
Figure 4.19

Figure 4.19 Adding a new PANTONE spot color to the Swatches panel

In the Swatches panel, a small dot icon (color-spot.jpg) displays to the right of the spot color name. Process colors display a small gray square (color-process.jpg).

Although a spot color is a solid ink, you will be able to create different visual effects by applying a tint of the color to the design elements.

To apply a tint of any swatch color (Figure 4.20):

  1. Select the object, and click the Fill or Stroke box in the Swatches panel or Control panel.
  2. Select the swatch color to apply.
  3. Drag the Tint slider to the preferred percentage or enter a value in the Tint field.
Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20 A 15% tint of the spot color fills the lighter blue frame.

Viewing Color Separations

  • star.jpg ACA Objective 5.1

When you submit press-ready InDesign files, packaged with fonts and links, or a press-ready PDF to an offset printer for printing, the printer will separate the colors used in your designs into different color plates. For process color designs, those plates capture the different shades and tints of each CMYK color. Designs with spot colors separate into additional plates, one for each spot color.

The Separations Preview panel (Window > Output) enables you to see each color separation created for your document (Figure 4.21).

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21 View separations in the Separations Preview panel.

To view process color separations of a page (Figures 4.22 and 4.23):

  1. In the Separations Preview panel, select Separations from the View menu.
  2. Move the pointer over the page to see the different color percentages reflected in the panel.
  3. To show or hide individual color plates, click the color separation visibility icon (separation-visibility.jpg) to the left of the individual color name.
Figure 4.22

Figure 4.22 CMYK color separations viewed in the Separations Preview panel

Figure 4.23

Figure 4.23 Spot color separation viewed in the Separations Preview panel

The ability to check the different separations before sending your documents to the printer can help you isolate possible color issues.

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